christmas

Duke Wagatha's Christmas tree lot in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

Go for the ambience, the free eggnog, and, oh yeah, a Christmas tree.

At Flatsnoots Christmas Trees in Ann Arbor, visiting owner Duke Wagatha is all part of the experience of finding that perfect evergreen.

  If you're dashing around trying to take care of your holiday to-do list, it might be time to think back and remember a time in Michigan when a bowl of oyster stew was your Christmas dinner and a $1.75 pair of gloves took care of your Christmas gift for the wife!

Nativity Scene
Flickr user Stereogab / Flickr

Someone has asked to set up a Christmas Nativity scene on government property, but where does this lie in the separation of church and state vs. free speech?

MLive’s Capitol reporter Jonathon Oosting joins us to discuss the request. According to Oosting, the recently formed Michigan State Capitol Commission is reviewing the request and they are currently seeking legal advice on the issue.

 Listen to our conversation with Oosting below.


It may only be July, but Michigan has already begun its search for this year's official Christmas tree.

People can nominate their picks for trees that could fit the bill.

Usually 10 to 15 trees are nominated, and the one that's chosen must be easy to access.

But the process isn't a quick one.

The search begins in the summer to allow enough time to prepare, choose, harvest, and transport the tree to the Capitol.

Lauren Leeds is a spokeswoman for the state. She says cutting down these trees often also helps the surrounding area.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

A new report shows the major winter storm that knocked out power to hundreds of thousands of Michiganders last month also hurt late Christmas sales.

About a half million Michiganders spent part of Christmas week in the dark after an ice storm cut a swath through the state.

Tom Scott is with the Michigan Retailers Association.  He says the Dec. 22 storm robbed many stores of last-minute Christmas shoppers.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Now that Christmas is over, Michigan retailers may be hoping that shoppers show more of their selfish side.

The holiday season is a season of giving. But one analyst says now that the presents have all been opened it's time for the "selfish shopper" to take over.

Trae Bodge is a senior editor for RetailMeNot.com. Bodge says being a "selfish shopper" is not necessarily a bad thing.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

AAA Michigan estimates 2.9 million Michiganders will be traveling more than 50 miles during the holiday season.   

Many of them will be traveling by train.

Marc Magliari is with Amtrak. He says Amtrak is adding extra trains in Michigan to accommodate increased demand during the Christmas and New Year’s holidays.

“We’re adding trains across Michigan during the busy holiday season because our other trains are selling out,” says Magliari.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Today hordes of last-minute Christmas shoppers hit Michigan stores frantically shopping for the perfect present, or at least the best still available.

The checkout lines, all two dozen of them, at a Meijer in Jackson were at least three shoppers deep around noon.

Jeff Bycraft was doing some last-minute Christmas shopping with his fiancé.

“Running a little bit behind this year, but we’re going to get it all done today. You have to,” says Bycraft.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

It will be Saturday at least before electricity is restored to all the Michigan homes and businesses that lost power in Sunday’s ice storm.

The storm knocked out power to almost a half million Michiganders.  About 300,000 are still waiting for their electricity to be turned back on. 

Brian Wheeler is a Consumers Energy spokesman.  He says about a third of the nearly 200,000 Consumers Energy customers without electricity are in Flint and Genesee County

whitehouse.gov

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) - The White House greeting card being sent throughout the country has Michigan fingerprints all over it.

The Grand Rapids Press reports that President Obama's 2013 card was designed by graphic artist Chris Hankinson of Hilltop Studios in Grand Rapids, Champion Die Inc. of Comstock Park made the die and Admore Inc. of Detroit made the card. Even the hand folding of the cards was done in state at Handy Bindery Co. in Clinton Township.

It's December. That means the airwaves are filled with Holly Jolly Christmases, White Christmases, Jingle Bell Rock and that ever-present Little Drummer Boy.

So, in the interest of public service, we thought we'd present a way for you to hear some fresh holiday music, performed by Michigan artists. The CD is called "A Michigan Christmas of Hope."

Holy Cross Children's Services will receive every penny of money raised from the CD. It's one of the largest private providers of specialized schools and children's services in Michigan.

Devin Scillian is best known as the anchor on WDIV-TV in Detroit. But, he's also built quite a following as a singer-songwriter. And, joining Devin is Russ Russell of Holy Cross Children's Services. 

Listen to the full interview above.

Stateside: Historic Christmas feasts, festivities

Dec 17, 2013
Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec

(Editor's note: The piece originally aired on December 20, 2012) 

Holiday feasts have increased in both complexity and decadence since their 19th century beginnings.

Bill Loomis of the Detroit News spoke with Cyndy about some historic festive spreads.

Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

 


A major holiday performance happens this weekend in West Michigan. Students, teachers and parents at Mona Shores High School have spent thousands of hours preparing for the event, where they create a living breathing, and singing Christmas Tree — that’s five-stories tall, and holds more than 200 student singers.

It’s getting lots of national attention. In 2011, TLC featured the tree on its aptly-titled holiday show, “Extreme Christmas Trees.” This year, it’ll be highlighted on the Travel Channel.

The show is now in its 29th year.

Almost 300 hundred students from Mona Shores High School have been practicing for this show — held at Muskegon’s Frauenthal Center for Performing Arts — since Labor Day.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Tomorrow, many people will switch from shopping at brick and mortar stores to shopping at online stores.

And, that means many will do Cyber-Monday browsing from their office cubicle.

Robert Half Technology surveyed employers and found 29 percent block access to online shopping sites.    That’s down from 33 percent last year.

Karen Wilson is with Robert Half.    She says allowing employees to shop online could actually improve productivity.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

STERLING HEIGHTS, Mich. (AP) - Several labor leaders are expected to rally at a suburban Detroit Wal-Mart store on the day traditionally viewed as the official start to the holiday buying season.

MLive.com reports the Friday event in Sterling Heights is one of hundreds of planned demonstrations and walkouts around the country. The Michigan Black Friday protest is expected to draw leaders from the AFL-CIO and Service Employees International Union.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Michigan retailers are less optimistic about this year’s holiday shopping season.

A survey by the Michigan Retailers Association finds a little more than half of its members expect their sales will be better this year.

The Michigan Retailers Index predicts about a 1.3% increase this year, that’s well below the national forecast.

http://www.wnem.com/

School’s out and summer means sun tans, barbeques, beach days, and…searching for Christmas Trees?

The hunt for the state holiday tree has begun. Michigan needs a 65-foot-tall evergreen that can sparkle on the lawn of the Capitol building in November.

“Everyone laughs that the process starts in June,” said Kurt Weiss with Michigan’s Department of Technology, Management and Budget, “But that’s when the process starts.”

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

For Michigan retailers, Christmas is over and now it’s time to focus on After Christmas sales.

Analysts say the unusually long holiday shopping season, stretching from Thanksgiving to Christmas Eve, generated sales numbers only modestly better than last year.

Tom Scott is with the Michigan Retailers Association.     He says gift cards were a popular present this year.   Scott says many Michiganders will redeem their gift cards during the next few weeks and probably spend a little more as well.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

The holidays bring with them added stress and depression.

Lisa Laughman is an emotional wellness consultant at Michigan State University.

She says there are many reasons why people may feel stressed or depressed this time of year.   This could be the first Christmas without a loved one.    Financial challenges may be making a 'traditional' family Christmas difficult.   Some people say the recent school massacre in Connecticut is also making this feel less like Christmas. 

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Michigan retailers are checking their holiday shopping receipts.   

The longer than normal holiday shopping season wraps up amid predictions that sales have not been quite as good as expected.

"We’ve noticed it’s been a little more spread out than usual," Peggy Hayes is the marketing director for the Twelve Oaks Mall in Novi, the largest shopping mall in Michigan,  "Often times, people wait until the last minute…but we’re found it’s been spread out…over the holiday season this year.”

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Most Michigan children believe Santa Claus brings them presents for Christmas. 

But children in Charlotte KNOW local firefighters are handling the delivery.  Starting about five o'clock, fire engines will start rolling down local streets, delivering presents.  

The Christmas Kiddies program has been providing needy children with presents in Eaton County for more than a hundred years.   This year, more than 400 children will be receiving Christmas presents.

Tyger Fullerton is the deputy fire chief.   He’s the third generation of his family to be part of the program

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

The holiday shopping season is expected to wrap up in a big way this weekend in Michigan.

This has been a longer than normal holiday shopping season with five full weekends separating Thanksgiving and Christmas this year.

Tom Scott is with the Michigan Retailers Association. He says stores have seen their business rise and fall during the past month. Scott says the unevenness of the holiday shopping season can be blamed in part on its length.

11-year-old Noah Hudson-Peralta wants to remember the young boys and girls who lost their lives in the Sandy Hook tragedy. 

He came up with the idea of Gifts For 20 in honor of the twenty children who passed away.

On Saturday, December 22nd, "Sandy Hook Day", Noah encourages everyone to give presents to disadvantaged children by donating to the Toys for Tots drive in their local area.

Listen to our interview with Noah and his father Ryan Hudson-Peralta above. 

The U.S. Coast Guard has loaded 1,300 Christmas trees aboard the ice cutter Mackinaw for delivery to needy families in Chicago.

Captain Dave Truitt of the Christmas Ship committee in Chicago says selling cheap evergreen trees from the northern Michigan woods to families in Chicago was a tradition a century ago.

“People would come down and get telegraphs of what ships were coming. They would look to the horizon and one of them would have a Christmas tree tied to the top. And people would yell and scream and the church bell it would start ringing and it was the beginning of Christmas for the entire community,” Truitt said.

Captain Herman Schuenemann’s ship, the Rouse Simmons, became known as the Christmas tree ship.

“One of the reasons (Captain Schuenemann) was so popular besides being a very good guy, he was a good businessman. He had an amazingly simple sign on his large schooner,” Truitt said, “It said ‘Christmas trees cheap’.”

75-cents was cheap. On land trees sold for a dollar a piece.

This year’s trip marks the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the original Christmas tree ship. It was last seen above water November 23rd, 1912 before a big snow storm. There are still many evergreens in the ship’s hull at the bottom of Lake Michigan.

Check out the wreckage footage below (narration begins around a minute into the video).

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

In Jackson, hundreds of people braved near freezing temperatures this morning to watch a 75 foot tall tree be chopped down.

Tomorrow, the tree will take its place on the state capitol lawn to serve as this year’s official state Christmas tree.

A crowd of school children and curious neighbors watched as professional timbermen chainsawed through the thick trunk of the Concolor Fir, before gingerly guiding the huge tree between two homes with the help of a large crane.

HOLLY, Mich. (AP) - Despite a few hiccups due to some wild weather, Michigan's holiday crops are looking good.

The Detroit Free Press reported yesterday that the state's Christmas tree growers say that while some trees were victims of the weather, it's unlikely to affect consumers.

Pumpkin growers say they're doing well after the drought and heat of the summer.

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

The presents have all been opened and many will be heading back to the store.   

Returning or exchanging gifts is part of the American holiday shopping season tradition.  

But Patrick Bennett with the Better Business Bureau of Eastern Michigan warns if you plan to return a present you should know the store’s rules for returning or exchanging merchandise. 

“It’s important that consumers retain the original packaging if they plan on returning items.  Or if they receive something that they know in fact they are going to return it, don’t even open it. Take it back in its original condition," says Bennett.   

Bennett also advises people returning presents to see if the business charges a restocking fee. He says restocking fees are common for businesses that sell electronics.  

Bennett says many retailers have tightened their rules on accepting returned merchandise in recent years to crack down on fraud. 

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

 The next phase of the holiday shopping season will start Monday with 'After Christmas' sales.  

Tom Scott is with the Michigan Retailers Association.    He says most retailers will offer some extra incentives to get customers into their stores, especially ones who got ‘gift cards’ as presents.  

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

 One week ago, a fire destroyed the Saint Vincent de Paul store and warehouse in Lansing.     

The community is helping the charity to rebuild.   

Saint Vincent de Paul provides help to those in need with clothing and other donated goods, heating assistance and even Christmas presents for children.  But last Sunday’s fire threatened all of that.    

A Christmas letter

Dec 23, 2011
Creative Commons

Sending out a formal Christmas letter is a holiday tradition for many people. 

Author Wade Rouse, after receiving one too many Christmas letters, decided to pen his own.

Wade Rouse lives in Michigan and is the author of "It's All Relative: Two Families, Three Dogs, 34 Holidays and 50 Boxes of Wine.”

 

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